Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

7:25 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I understand the point made. A committee of inquiry may engage outside expertise to do the scoping work I referred to or to assist it in the preparation of its work. The Committee of Public Accounts, for example, engaged outside legal experts last year in preparing its report on a possible banking inquiry. It is not necessary to provide specifically for this in the Bill. I note that Deputy Donnelly is not proposing any particularly strong statutory powers for inquiry officers. Under the proposed amendment, a person may decline to answer any questions asked or refuse a request to produce a document. This is in the amendment tabled.

The second observation I would make is that one of the very positive features of the Oireachtas inquiry model, as opposed to a tribunal or a commission of investigation, is that its proceedings will mostly be conducted in public and will probably be televised. This is a very important aspect of the democratic process where Members of the Oireachtas are seen to be conducting such work. This, however, does not preclude a scoping exercise, be it by the Ombudsman, the Comptroller and Auditor General or an expert appointed by a committee.


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